"boreal forests, which covers vast stretches of Canada, could soon work against us.
Scientists say that forests of all kinds, which currently absorb about 25% of all carbon emissions, will be in no shape to perform that critical carbon-regulating service if the planet heats up 2.5 degrees Celsius -- which could occur this century if emissions are not substantially reduced.
"We normally think of forests as putting the brakes on global warming, but in fact over the next few decades, damage induced by climate change could cause forests to release huge quantities of carbon and create a situation in which they do more to accelerate warming than to slow it down," said Risto Seppala, a professor at the Finnish Forest Research Institute and immediate past president of IUFRO, who chaired the expert panel that produced the Adaptation of Forests and People to Climate Change -- A Global Assessment report.
Canada is very much in harm's way, as well.
"Our research shows there will be many more forest fires, a bigger range of destructive insects -- such as the pine beetle -- and awful drought like we saw in the Prairies in 2001 to 2003," said Mr. Kurz. "Trees cannot move, therefore as we continue to produce high levels of emission, trees become progressively maladapted and stressed. A stressed tree is much more likely to become diseased, infested or burn down."
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